Friday, 30 October 2009

Mindset

I recall when I was a little girl, everytime I misbehave my mom often tell a story "When I was a child".

She was the youngest among 12 siblings in her family. I am not sure how small is her house back then, but it does sounded that everyone cramped into one small rented house.
If I didn't feel like finishing my dinner, she will tell me that her mom used to made watery porrige or adding corn to the rice to feed the households.
If I was bored with my toy, she will tell me that she almost have no toys, and those that she had has passed by generation her eldest sister so you could imagine how it looks.
If I was lazy to study for my exam, she will tell me that most of her elder siblings has no chance for education, they had to work to help adding income to the family with the hope that their youngest siblings will make it through university (which did come to reality as my mom and one of his brother graduated as physician).

I can see that whatever she said had shape my mindset towards certain things. Even though I grew up quite nomad (yes my parents does not have their own house to stay until I was close to 10 years old) in some rural area in Java, I count myself much more fortunate than my mom. I always have enough food, new clothing, enough toys, and never worried that my parents could not pay my school fee.

I was in a terrible shock when I arrive in UK. People here just merely complain about ANYTHING, weather, tax, education, bla bla bla... I did question "why?", and the answer is pretty obvious, the country and their government had spoilt them way too much. Government build council houses, homeless sheds, paying disablity benefits (apparently nut alergies is disability here), paying child benefits, giving free medical, free education, even to the point of paying portion of your mortgage when you lost your job!

Where I came from, hospital, doctor and medicine has never been free, even when we pay tax! I remembered this conversation while helping my mom attending a diabetic patient (yes, this is a 10 year old get her pocket money, helping in the clinic)

My mom : Mrs XXX, this is your medication, take it once a day. Remember try to strict your diet according to what I've said earlier. And we'll see you in 3 months time. *putting the bill on the table*

Mrs XXX : *frantically open her wallet and makes no remarks, but she
didn't put the money on the table*

My mom : Well, just pay me with what you have. I understand many of my diabetic patient had to come often for medication, and it can be very expensive.

Mrs XXX : *pause for a moment*
Thank you doctor, I don't know how to repay your kindness. Surely you can't
do this everytime to everybody.

My mom : *Smile and said...*
Just remember to takecare of your health, and remember my instruction, that'll do.


Almost everymonth, my house is flooded with gifts from dozen of patient who suffer the same fate as Mrs XXX. It can be fruits, food even to life stock as chicken and ducks. People in Indonesia may have to live in a hut, don't know how to write or read, yet know what gratitude means.

Here in UK, the teenager has every chance to go to university (education is free until 18 years old), the government give them loan, tuition grant, which can be paid when you find job in the future, but yet most of them never has the courage and perseverance to bear 4 years in university.

(And those who make it to top university decided to do this....)
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(Above is the picture I took while travelling in Cambridge)

The result? most of company in UK need to hire foreigner for executive job because not many Brits qualified for it. And guess what, the brits does not like their country being invaded by polish, indian, pakistani and call for a strike! What an irony, a country this rich has people who are lazy and greedy.

If only they could swap a month on the shoes of Mrs XXX, they will came back as a different person.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Or Would I?

If I had been Adam
When temptation was nigh
To disobey God’s command,
I would have obeyed, or would I?

If I had been Lot,
From wickedness I would shy,
I’d have never pitched my tent,
Toward Sodom, or would I?

If I had been Cain,
To God I would not lie,
I’d bring the proper sacrifice
To please God, or would I?

If I had been Jonah,
When sent to Nineveh to cry,
I would not have run away,
Or tarried, or would I?

If I had been Peter,
On me God could rely,
I would not have denied the Saviour,
Or forsook Him, or would I?

If I had been Demas,
Why, I’d rather die
Than to love this present world,
And forsake God’s work, or would I?

If I had been the rich young ruler,
There would be no reason why
I wouldn’t sell all to follow Christ,
I’d give Him my all, or would I?

Written by Harry Todd
Wallpaper by KJVchristianWallpapers.blogspot.com
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Monday, 26 October 2009

Autumn Blessing

The day start out gloomy and wet. I thought it going to be a cold day the whole day! But 1 hour before the sunset, suddenly the cloud breaks and the sun shining at its best for the last 1 solid hour.
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Below is my experiment using a GIMP decor effect (I am sure photoshop is far more advance than this) and yellow overlay. I also read somewhere that many pictures are best to be looked at with black background.
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And the best highlight this week is, my pastor is back from his trip in States. Surely the pulpit feels different without him.


p.s: has been thinking of upgrading the camera, so far I have two recommendation for Canon 5D MKii, any thoughts?

Friday, 23 October 2009

I heart Autumn

Although I must say that autumn is not my favorite kind of season (I do prefer spring and summer), it does have its own charm to offer.
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What could be better than enjoying the last warm weather by stroling over the beautiful cambridge colleges. Watching the leaves began to fall as the strong cold autumn wind blows.
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Or watching the punters try to get their way in the ripply mood of the river. I was surprised that so many people still giving themselves a chance to get wet despite of this cold weather.
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My husband busy taking the Nicholson's picture and his picture :P
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While the children is more interested to watch the punter from the bridge. Either they had never seen boat before or they just want to swim on the river.
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I find myself adoring the miraculous colour of autumn leaves on the ground. I wonder what makes the tree knows it's time for them to change their outfit colour at this time of the year.
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Despite of less selection of blooming beauty compared to spring and summer, autumn still has in store some of the most beautiful flower to show. I don't know the name of it, but boy it's surely smell wonderful and it is HUGE!
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Talking about flowers nearly a size of your head, that it is! It may not look that big here though.
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I've been enjoying my autumn day thus far. So how's autumn in your place is like?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Catching up with LIFE

At last, what a time of the day I am wanting to have. All cores are done, my boy is in bed, my husband busy doing his own thing, and leaving me with my laptop. Life has been really hectic recently, more that I could ever imagine. And I nearly missed out the autumn catch this year!
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First, is because my husband is in the middle of job hunting therefore he has been home late (very late!) almost everyday. Mind you this process will last till end of November.
But why could job hunting be so strenous anyway? Well, he is looking for management consultancy position and it is the nature of the job to be demanding and strenous, so even I have to be able to cope with this and doing things around the house without depending on him.
Hang on, isn't he a physisict? what he had to do with management consulting? The answer is pretty simple. There is very few job for people with his skill, nevermind that he is an Oxford grad, but the truth is there is not many people need a person with DNA and laser skill except if you work for X-man lab (even then they need hot looking actor and actress not a geeky physisict). And if there is such position, it's either the pay is not good or the distant is too far. And would he want to stuck being a physisict or engineer for the rest of his life?


Don't worry, he does not like to insult and con people, but I think you get the point. Last year my husband come quite close from getting a job in 2 of the top management consultancy firm. This sort of assuring us that he had the right skill they need, he just need to sell himself more.

Secondly, our missionary friends - the Nicholsons is up for their holiday last weekend and spend few days with us. It has been great fun! We visiting lots of Christian site in Bedford (John Bunyan), Olney (J Newton, writter or Amazing Grace), and Oxford and Cambridge.
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The weather was so so, not raining neither it is sunny, but the cloud make a great diffuse filter and hence we are able to take pictures with no difficulties. We visited tons of colleges, chapels, and museum but the highlight of their trip is trying the punt in Magdalene College Oxford.
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The river was sooo empty and tranquil. This is not a season to punt in Oxford, and the gloomy weather has repel many of potential punters away. Loads of colourful leaves and few ducks makes the trip much more memorable than it was. edit8edit6
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I am sure I have tons of other pictures to share, but I may keep it for later because winter is coming and it means less stuff to be captured and thus lesser things to blog about.
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Thirdly, this blog just receive an award by Stardust! I am so thrilled! I wanted to thank her sweetness for passing on the award, despite of nothing creative about my blog! Therefore, as per her request, I'll pass on this award.

So here it goes :
1. Edna, for her friendship and amazing NZ pictures she shared on her blog.
2. Maryann, for her ever so great super stunning pictures.
3. HOPE, for the encouragement and friendship I find in her blog.

So meanwhile, I've created some autumn leaves collection. I bet those country like States and US have a better share of autumn colours than rainy UK. If you wanted to share your autumn with me, feel free to drop me a link on the comment box!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Things that makes me smile

I recently bump into an old friend in facebook, she is my former high school classmate somewhat 13 years back. She praise me on how different I look now that pull her hesitancy to approve my friend request at first. I feel flattered and surprised at first, I am best well known as geek and nerdy of all generation can't change that much!
But the truth of the matter is, I hardly spoke to her back then, she was just one of the dozen of people who happen to be my classmate. After exchanging a little more note, I was starting to regret why I didn't know this friend this well back then.
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I must admit, I did regret on some choices of friend I made years ago. Especially as teenager, little did I realise that friend can affect loads of your decision making, priority and the way you look at your life. In result, not just I waste few of my good youthful year pursuing vanity stuff and pride, but the heartache, the sorrow, and disappointment when you know whom you labelled as "best friend" or "soul mate" does not behave like one in return, and end up leaving you or betraying you on their convenience.

But as many said, Mistake is the best teacher. I start to retrack my path. Now that I've grew wiser (yes, from learning my mistake!) my life is much happier and simpler. God had bring many of His best people to be my best friend. And when He did, these friends and their friendship not only lasted until we all die. But it last for eternity.
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This entry is dedicated to all my Christian blog stalker, especially Abbie Nicholson, Tammy, Stardust, AG and Ellena. You girls are so meaningful for me!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Monday, 19 October 2009

Forbidden City

I was doing a little reading about chinese culture and stumble upon this entry by DAILYMAIL that I thought very interesting.



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Strewn across the gleaming black floor of the imperial harem like blood-stained butterflies pinned to a board, the beautiful young concubines in Beijing's Forbidden City appeared at first to be sleeping, but the crimson pools of blood around their silken robes told a different story.
The palace soldiers had shown no mercy in slaying these fragile creatures on that terrible night in 1421.

Acting on the orders of the Ming Emperor Yongle, one of the most feared despots in Chinese imperial history, they had wielded their swords to ensure no one survived.
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Tyrannical: Emperor Yongle locked up his concubine Lady Cui

Some of their innocent victims were as young as 13, but one horrified chronicler of the time described how they had been "rent, split, ripped and torn to shreds" alongside the servant girls and eunuchs who guarded them.
In all, it is said that 2,800 people were killed in the harem as the Emperor tried to suppress a sex scandal which threatened to humiliate him at what should have been the proudest moment of his reign.

Beijing was then full of foreign dignitaries who had been invited to the unveiling ceremony of the Forbidden City, the architectural wonder which is still the largest palace in the world.

In murdering all witnesses to the scandalous developments in his own harem, Yongle hoped to keep them secret for eternity, but now the tale of treachery and murderous intrigue which unfolded within the blood-red walls of his palace is told in a dramatic BBC documentary.

Drawing on long-forgotten chronicles translated into English for the first time, it shows how, just as today's Chinese government hopes the Olympics will lend their regime credibility, so the building of the Forbidden City was Yongle's attempt to legitimise his claim to be supreme ruler of all .

In fact, he had no right to call himself emperor.

When his father, the first Ming emperor died in 1398, the true heir to the throne was Yongle's 20-year-old nephew, Jianwen.

But Yongle was 18 years older than Jianwen and an aggressive warrior who had successfully defended China's northern reaches against the Mongols.

Yongle believed his father should have given him the throne instead.
He was encouraged in this by an old soothsayer who appeared before him in a tavern.
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Lady Cui (pictured here in the BBC reconstruction)
He told Yongle he was the true "son of heaven" and said he would one day be emperor, but only when his beard reached his navel.

Three years later, once the superstitious Yongle had grown his beard, he led his forces to Nanjing, then the capital of China, to kill his young nephew.

At first, Jianwen believed he was safe behind Nanjing's unbreachable defences, but then he learned that one of his generals had betrayed him, opening the gates to the invaders.

Yongle's triumph seemed assured, but he hadn't reckoned on the intervention of his father, Hongwu, from beyond the grave.

Just as Jianwen was contemplating suicide rather than die at the hands of his bloodthirsty uncle, an old eunuch who had served under Hongwu scuttled in with an ancient vermilion box and placed it before him.

Anticipating Yongle's fury at being overlooked as his heir, the late emperor had instructed that the box be given to his grandson in case of such an attack.

It contained a map of secret passageways under the city, orange robes and a razor for Jianwen to shave his head so he could escape into the countryside disguised as a Buddhist monk.
As he fled, Jianwen ordered the palace be burnt to the ground, leaving his family to die inside rather than face his uncle's wrath.

The blackened bodies of the empress and their six-year-old son were found by Yongle and his men when the flames died down.
Alongside them was the corpse of a young man.

Although it was burnt beyond recognition, Yongle decided it must be Jianwen and declared himself emperor.
But rumours were circulating about a mysterious monk seen running from the city shortly before the fire.

From then on, Yongle was haunted by the possibility that Jianwen might return to claim his throne.

The bloodshed, which marked the rest of his reign, flowed from his determination to prove that, just as the soothsayer had said, he was heaven's chosen agent on Earth. (To this day, no one knows what became of Jianwen.)

His first step was to demand the official sanction of Nanjing's political elite, in particular its most respected scholar, Fang Xiaoru.

When the old man refused to draft a document supporting his succession, Yongle ordered his men to set about him with their swords, but Fang Xiaoru had the last word - literally.
As he lay dying on the palace floor, he drew the Chinese character for "usurper" in his own blood.
In retaliation for this, Yongle purged the capital of all his political opponents, killing tens of thousands of people.

To assert himself as the new and unassailable Emperor of China, he built a new capital in the province of Beijing, 550 miles to the north, where his support base was strongest.
At the heart of Beijing - the Mandarin word for northern capital - would be the palace complex of the Forbidden City.

With nearly 1,000 buildings and more than 9,000 rooms occupying 180 acres - five times as much land as Buckingham Palace - Yongle hoped this wondrous creation would show it had been built with divine approval.

The construction took 15 years, and more than a million people were press ganged into gathering building materials for the palace from every corner of the empire.
Up on the freezing plains of the north, great slabs of marble were hauled across ice.
If any were sub-standard, those responsible for finding them were beaten or executed.
There was great suffering, too, in the province of Szechuan, where unpaid workers were ordered deep into the uncharted forests to fell hundreds of thousands of giant timbers.
Hounded by Yongle's soldiers and beset by disease, wild animals and sheer exhaustion, only half made it out alive.

The survivors rolled the trees down mountain gullies and into rivers, where they floated on a 1,000-mile journey to Beijing - a trip that took as long as four years.
As the building materials inched towards the new capital, Yongle ordered that every brick, pillar and stair of the old palace in Nanjing should be measured to ensure the Forbidden City should be "higher, grander and more magnificent".

This task was delegated to a team of eunuchs who were believed to make the most loyal servants.
Keeping their severed "treasure parts" in a jar and prizing them as proof of their devotion to their master, the 3,000 eunuchs at Yongle's court were his most trusted lackeys.

In 1408, he sent his chief eunuch on an extraordinary mission to neighbouring Korea.
Since the emperor had a penchant for Korean women, he was to bring back virgins to stock the imperial harem - which would take up a quarter of the Forbidden City.

Afraid of displeasing his neighbour, the Korean king sent his officials across the land to find its purest and most becoming young women.
All pretty girls had to be reported to the authorities, and anyone who hid their daughters or cut off their hair to make them ugly was arrested and stripped of everything they owned.
Among the recruits was Lady Cui, the 14-year-old daughter of a Korean government official who was taken 600 miles from her home to Beijing to serve the emperor.

She never saw her family again and her incredible stories, recently translated from the original Mandarin, give us unprecedented insight into the secret world of the concubines.

Until the Forbidden Palace was completed, Lady Cui and hundreds of other courtesans were locked inside the imperial palace in Nanjing (rebuilt after the fire), where they were taught the art of love-making - reading textbooks and studying erotic paintings that showed them how to please the emperor.

Those who became favourites, like Lady Cui, could become women of wealth and influence in the ritualised world of the harem, but catching the emperor's eye was not easy.

A strict astrological calendar was in operation, ensuring the emperor was having sex with the right woman on the right day, depending upon the time and circumstances of their birth.

This was to ensure his love-making accorded with the wishes of heaven, but it meant a particular concubine might not be called to the imperial bed-chamber for many years, and some were never summoned at all.

This lack of contact with the emperor might explain why some concubines resorted to so-called "vegetarian" affairs with the eunuchs - the only men, or half-men, they saw from day to day.
Since the Chinese were pioneers of sex aids, these intensely emotional relationships may also have been partly physical, but - whatever their nature - they were forbidden.

They could also have catastrophic consequences, as was seen shortly after Yongle unveiled the Forbidden City on New Year's Day 1421.

This was the emperor's triumphant moment but, though he had festooned the palace with statues of magical beasts to ward off evil, he did not enjoy heaven's blessing for long.
As the foreign ambassadors who had travelled so far for the opening ceremony enjoyed Beijing's hospitality outside the palace walls in the coming weeks, those inside were luxuriating in their surroundings.

The concubines had never known such opulence, with departments run by the eunuchs catering to their every whim. There was a Department of Entertainment to organise festivals and parties for them, a Department of the Bathhouse to provide them with steaming water, and even a Department of Toilet Paper.

But for the concubines it was a gilded prison.

Though they wanted for nothing, they were forbidden to leave the harem and their every move was spied upon by a secret police force known as the Eastern Depot, run by senior eunuchs.
Shortly after the ceremony, the Eastern Depot told Yongle that one of his favourite concubines had committed suicide after being caught having a relationship with a eunuch.

Any suggestion that Yongle was not in complete control of his palace could encourage his political enemies, within and outside China, to think he was a weak ruler, so he took action.

Away from the gaze of his foreign visitors, the occupants of the harem were rounded up, marched to their bloody deaths and silenced for ever.

There is no mention of this in Yongle's official records, but although he managed to write the murders out of history, the gods appeared to have taken their vengeance on him, as is divulged in the memoirs of Lady Cui.

Her life was spared because she had been recuperating from illness in the old imperial palace at Nanjing at the time of the massacre, but she returned to the Forbidden City the next night in time to witness what had happened.

"There was such deep sorrow in the palace that thunder shook the three great halls," recalled Lady Cui.

"Lightning struck them and after all those years of toil, they all burned to the ground."
The blaze lit up the whole city and soon spread - reducing 250 buildings to ashes and burning scores of men and women alive.

The palace Yongle had covered with lucky charms seemed damned.

Questioning what he had done, and fearful that heaven was angry with him, he sank into depression and died in August 1424, a broken man.

In the dark world of the Forbidden City, where life could be snuffed out in an instant, Lady Cui had outlived the emperor, but there was a sickening footnote in her "marriage vows".
She must never be allowed to give herself to another man. There was only one way to ensure that.

On the day of Yongle's funeral, she made herself beautiful for her emperor one last time and then, along with 15 of his other favourite concubines and their servant girls, she was executed - hung from a noose of white silk in a quiet hall within the Forbidden City. She was just 30 years old.

After Yongle's death, his son, the new Emperor Hongxi, planned to abandon the ill-fated palace and move the capital back to Nanjing, but he died just one year into his reign.
The palace, it seemed, was cursed.

The three great halls lay in ruins for 15 years until the decision was taken to rebuild them.
The Forbidden City would serve 24 emperors before 1911 when revolutionaries stormed the palace to end imperial rule.

Thanks to the determination of their modern-day successors to bring China into the 21st century, international attention will soon focus not on the Forbidden City but on a new landmark - the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium, five miles away.

Like its historic neighbour, it has cost vast sums to build - and is said to have cost the lives of many construction workers.

If it's all to be worth it, China's rulers will have to hope they fare better than Emperor Yongle - the tyrant who was in power the last time Beijing set out to dazzle the world.
• Secrets Of The Forbidden City, directed by Mark Lewis, is on BBC2 on Saturday, May 10, at 7.30pm.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

When Fairy Tale comes true....

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Yes, Prince Charming does exist!!!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Birthday, the Indonesian style

Few weeks ago, we had a combined birthday celebration among me, Mia and my husband (yes all of us born in less than 3 weeks gap). I did wonder whether I wanted a birthday cake. I browse for some ideas in the internet, but those which I categorise as "edible" and "nice" is sort of expensive. I don't want to have just any usual cake, so we decide to make a complete different cake. After brainstorming with our head chef Mia (who is also one of the birthday girl), we determine to celebrate our birthday all in Indonesian style, which means instead of cake, we have "nasi tumpeng".
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Nasi tumpeng is basically a dish made of mainly yellow rice (or white rice with coconut juice called nasi uduk) in a shape of cone which is eaten during special events. The rice is cooked with coconut milk and turmeric, hence the name nasi kuning (yellow rice). The rice is to symbolize a heap of gold, so nasi kuning is often served for parties, or opening ceremonies, as a symbol of good fortune, wealth and dignity.
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It is usually served with more variety of side dishes than nasi campur. Shredded omelet, serundeng (relish of grated coconut and spices), sambal goreng (fried tempeh and potato caramelized in spicy sauce), ayam goreng (Javanese-style fried chicken), perkedel (potato fritters) are the most common side dishes found in nasi kuning. More elaborate nasi kuning would include fried cow's brain, fried cow's lung, beef and seafood. (This may sounded gross, but the truth is... you can hardly recognise the stuff from the shape, and it taste pretty good!)
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The top of the tumpeng would normally be given to the most senior of the attendance. (In which we are pushing each other to do it because no one will like to admit being the oldest!)
Below, the birthday boy and girls. Please pardon the background, it's a full house so we just have to cramp somewhere.
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Just in case you are wondering how old is all of us, oh well... you just have to figure it our yourself.
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